Historical Markers in
Santa Cruz County, California

54th Coast Artillery Army Regiment War Memorial A Love Story A Year to Remember in Watsonville ACE Roller Coaster Landmark Arthur A. Taylor Beauty and the Beach Before the Boardwalk Big Creek Light and Power Company Boardwalk Goes Hollywood Branciforte Bull and Bear Fights Burgers at the Beach Burrell School California Pioneers Camp Capitola Superintendent’s Office Capitola’s Natural Riches Charles Martin Winery Charley Darkey Parkhurst Charlotte (Charlie) Parkhurst China Beach Colonial Revival Style Cowell Lime Works Daredevils Davenport Jail Don Gaspar de Portolá Donald Leon Rose Eben Bennett Home Felton Covered Bridge Fickle Fashion First High Altitude Airplane Flights March 1905 Francisco Alzina House Fun, Fads, and Food Georgiana Bruce Kirby Giant Dipper Glenwood Grace Episcopal Church Building Grave of Grove C. Cook Heisler / Shay / Climax Locomotive Historic Lawn Way Cottages Historic Lime Kilns History of Surfing in Santa Cruz Hotel Bayview Isaac Graham: “Swashbuckling Soldier of Fortune James A. Hall Judge Julius Lee House Kirby House Lady of the Night Lest We Forget Louden (London) Nelson Magical Merry-go-round Making Barrels for Shipping Lime Mary Amney Case Men Die O Liberty That Thou Endurs Mountain Charlie Bear Fight Mountain Charlie Big Tree Mountain Charlies Cabin Old Theatre Building O’Neill’s Surf Shop Pacific Avenue Commercial Building People's Bank Porter Building Rancho San Andrés Castro Adobe Remembering Chinese Pioneers Roaring Camp Covered Bridge S.S. Palo Alto Saint Joseph Marello Salz Tannery Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Boards Santa Cruz County Bank Santa Cruz County World War Memorial Santa Cruz Hall of Records 1882 / Salón de archivos de Santa Cruz 1882 Santa Cruz Main Post Office Scott House Seacliff SS Palo Alto 100 years Site of Santa Cruz Mission Site of the Historic Foresters Hall St. Patricks Church St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church Surfing Was First Brought Here By Hawaiian Princes Swanton Swanton Pacific Ranch The Apple Annual The Branciforte Adobe The Butterfield Stage stopped here. The City of Watsonville The Cocoanut Grove The Cremer House The Discovery of California Redwoods The First State Park The Hihn Building The Lettunich Building The Lt. John C. Fremont Tree The Mansion House The Plunge The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk The Santa Cruz Seaside Company The Scott House The Swamp House Theatre Del Mar This Gun Was Used To the Chinese men and women who came to Gold Mountain Tom Scribner University Town Center Venetian Court Wagon Top Boiler Washout 1997 to 2001 Watsonville Where Strawberries are Sweeter Whiskey Hill Whiting’s Games Willey House Williams World famous Brookdale Lodge ZaSu Pitts House
The first drive-in movie theater in the world was opened in California in 1933. The theater, called the Drive-In Theatre, was located in Camden, New Jersey. However, the drive-in movie theater became more popular in California and eventually spread across the country.
Santa Cruz County, located on the central coast of California, has a rich and diverse history that stretches back thousands of years. The region was originally inhabited by the Ohlone people, who were skilled hunters, gatherers, and fishermen. They lived in harmony with the land, utilizing its resources while maintaining a sustainable balance.

In 1769, the Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portolá led an expedition that explored the area, claiming it as part of Spain's territory. The Spanish introduced agriculture and Catholicism to the region, establishing several missions along the coast, including Mission Santa Cruz. However, the arrival of the Spanish also had devastating effects on the Ohlone population, as they were forced into labor and exposed to new diseases.

During the mid-19th century, Santa Cruz County experienced a gold rush similar to the one in the Sierra Nevada. The discovery of gold in the nearby mountains led to a population boom, with miners and settlers flooding into the region. However, Santa Cruz's gold rush was short-lived, and the population soon shifted to agriculture and logging, taking advantage of the fertile soil and abundant forests.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Santa Cruz County became a popular tourist destination. The availability of steamboat travel and the development of railways made the county more accessible, attracting visitors from all over California and beyond. With its stunning natural beauty, including the famous seashores and redwood forests, Santa Cruz County has since become a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts, surfers, and nature lovers.

Overall, Santa Cruz County's history is marked by a mix of indigenous culture, Spanish colonization, resource exploitation, and tourism. Today, it stands as a vibrant coastal community that embraces its past while continuing to evolve and adapt to the changing needs and desires of its residents and visitors.

This timeline provides a condensed summary of the historical journey of Santa Cruz County, California.

  • 1579 - Sir Francis Drake lands on the coast
  • 1791 - Santa Cruz Mission is founded
  • 1822 - Mission Santa Cruz is secularized
  • 1848 - California becomes part of the United States
  • 1850 - Santa Cruz County is established
  • 1866 - Santa Cruz Boardwalk opens
  • 1901 - Construction of Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf begins
  • 1904 - Roaring Camp Railroad is established
  • 1906 - The Great San Francisco Earthquake severely damages Santa Cruz
  • 1940 - University of California, Santa Cruz is founded
  • 1970 - Loma Prieta earthquake causes significant damage to the county
  • 1990 - Santa Cruz Skateboards, a famous skateboarding company, is founded
  • 2018 - Santa Cruz County celebrates its 170th anniversary